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April 28th 2017

Accidents at Work

Are businesses and employees ignoring health and safety?

Jane Woodcock

Jane Woodcock

Senior Legal Executive and Head of Personal Injury

Are businesses and employees ignoring health and safety?

Have you been putting yourself at risk and can you spot ‘accidents waiting to happen?’

Have you been putting yourself at risk and can you spot ‘accidents waiting to happen?’

Health and Safety is often ridiculed as being the overzealous approach to keeping people safe from injury and harm – something which has become a hazard itself for those wanting to get on and do their jobs hassle free at work.

‘Watch out…the health and safety police will be after you’ is perhaps a phrase you will have heard at your own workplace when a member of staff has been doing something which they strictly shouldn’t have – perhaps cutting corners to get the job done.

It will happen thousands of times each and every day at workplaces across the UK, where somebody takes a risk – perhaps because it ‘will only take a minute’ – completely disregarding health and safety policies within their organisation.

Equally, employers will take short cuts – continuing to expect staff to use equipment which doesn’t meet the required standards, or perhaps expecting them to work longer hours than they legally should in their roles.

Of course, on most occasions, no injury will occur, giving extra ammunition to those who claim we now live in something of a ‘nanny state’.

But equally, in our work at Hudgell Solicitors, we see many occasions in which workers taking ‘everyday’ risks suffer serious, often life-changing injuries.

Scaffolder Matthew Burke fell only a few feet from step-ladders, but suffered a serious brain injury which changed his life forever.

He was lucky to survive after manually lifting scaffolding onto some shelving at his workplace – a job he had done at the end of his shift every day.

In allowing him to do so, Matthew’s employers were breaking health and safety laws given the height and weight of objects being lifted without support or machinery, and putting him at risk.

It may have seemed unnecessary and a burden at the time, but Matthew is now a living example of why risks should not be taken, and why it is down to both employers and employees to identify risks and remove them from the workplace.

It is with that in mind – and with it being World Day for Health and Safety at Work Day today,  Friday, April 28 – that we are urging people to look out for ‘accidents waiting to happen’ in working environments this week.

From employees standing on tables or desks instead of ladders, not wearing a hard hat because that job ‘will only take a moment,’ or failing to properly cordon off an area of work which could pose a risk to others – we are sure there will be plenty on view.

We know many people see health and safety as a barrier to getting on with their jobs. Some judge risk assessments as a waste of time, hard hats to be uncomfortable, protective gloves or glasses something which get in the way. That attitude has to change.

The reality is that serious danger comes in everyday situations, and risk is often heightened when people become complacent in their roles. They don’t take their time as they are either doing something they have done many times before, or they haven’t really thought about the dangers involved.

We recently represented a worker who sliced through four fingers when using a circular saw which had been modified – not properly repaired and maintained – by his employers, and a man who suffered a broken foot when trapping it in machinery he’d not been trained to use.

Both men were simply getting on with their jobs, but due to faulty machinery and a lack of training, both were serious accidents waiting to happen.

Can you see any impending workplace accidents? If so highlight them, and prevent them from happening.

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